Charcoal-topped cheesecake or ice cream with chunks of cheese anyone? Strange they may seem - even stomach churning - but these real products, lauched in Asia this month, could hail a new era of counter-intuitive taste combos, according to Datamonitor.
Food manufacturers are always on the look out for new ways to grab consumers' attention, and Cesar Pereira, research manager on Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics team, said that using ingredients in innovative ways to produce unusual products was a clear theme in September’s food and beverage launches.
He told FoodNavigator.com: “These particular products may be unlikely to be rolled out across Europe (on a widespread basis at least) but they are indicative of consumer trends in the EU region.
“Consumers are seeking out more interesting consumption experiences and products which contain unusual or unique flavours/formulations are a means of achieving this.These kinds of products tend to be aimed at experiential shoppers who are looking for something ‘different’."
“It’s unlikely that there will be any that garner genuine mainstream appeal for the long-term but the industry needs this kind of innovation to progress. Manufacturers will always be looking to create something unique that becomes an unequivocal success because the potential rewards are huge.”
Eating habits changing
Pereira certainly believes that our eating habits are changing: “Consumers in the EU tend to be less experimental than in, say, Japan, but nevertheless there are indications that manufacturers are at least trying to broaden their horizons.
He said Datamonitor had identified some recent European launches that backed the new trend. In Spain, Paquito Jamon is selling 10 new varieties of ham in unusual flavours, which include wine, curry, pistachio, chocolate, banana varieties.
In Germany, Theodor Kattus has launched a new balsamic cream sauce range that includes a chocolate orange flavour, while two flavours in a new Italian preserved jam line under the Savini Riflessioni name include prune and smoked tea, and apricot and dark chocolate.
Said Pereira: “It’s difficult to assess at the moment how successful these products have been because they are all recent launches.
“But it would perhaps be safe to assume that they are a relatively small niche currently. Such products require time to gather momentum because some consumers will always be reticent to try something new for fear of not liking it.”
Double-cheese ice cream
Just launched in The Philippines, Nestle’s double-cheese ice cream is the first to use whole cheese pieces, says Datamonitor, although the research firm notes that cheese ice creams have previously been sold in Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, Selene’s new Kishu Sumishoku club cheesecake, just launched in Japan, contains an edible powder made from a variety of charcoal called Binchotan, which gives the dessert its wholly black colour.
*Mark Whalley, Datamonitor's consumer analyst, also helped compile the firm's comments for FoodNavigator.com